New “chatting benches” where the public can have a chat with one of their local gardaí have been introduced in Wicklow and Arklow towns.
For at least one hour each week, a member of the gardaí will be available at the benches for a socially-distanced chat with anyone interested.
While the topics of conversation do not have to be Garda-related, the benches will also provide an opportunity for someone to speak to a Garda in confidence in a situation where they are uncomfortable - for whatever reason - with going to a Garda station.
Garda Superintendent Declan McCarthy said: “A Garda will be present to have a chat, give advice or just say hi and the ‘chatting bench’ provides the perfect opportunity for people to interact more with the gardaí in a neutral venue other than at a Garda station.”
The initiative from Co Wicklow gardaí, in conjunction with Wicklow and Arklow Municipal Districts, is already in operation on the promenade in Bray.
Its expansion will see new benches at the Black Castle in Wicklow and the Parade Ground near the bandstand in Arklow.
Cathaoirleach of Wicklow Municipal District, Cllr John Snell, and Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District, Cllr Sylvester Burke, welcomed the initiative being extended to their towns.
They said “a little bit” of interaction can address loneliness and isolation in local communities.
The time gardaí will be available at the benches will be announced beforehand on the Garda Síochána Wicklow Facebook page.